So, maybe it is just blurred and shaded by the memory of childhood, like how most every day in the summer was a wonderful day, and sleeping out under the stars never was anything other than delightful, even if we did sometimes sleep on the concrete sidewalk. Perhaps the human mind is able to reshape those general happenings into thoughts of joy and happiness – unless of course they are really ugly incidents in childhood, and then they seem to color the past with more ominous tints.
Of course, I’m talking about deviled eggs. Besides Easter, when the dozens of boiled eggs needed to be used for something, and there is only so much egg salad children will eat, Mom would boil up and make what we always considered an elegant off-menu treat for Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and a few other times, like when we would all go on a picnic/expedition to Swan Lake park in Sumter, South Carolina. So, besides the meat, and the vegetable, and the bread or starch, like potatoes, fries, rice or the like, Mom would on those wonderful occasions create “deviled eggs.” I never really understood the meaning behind that name, as it seemed something at first we should avoid, being the devil and all – kind of like Devils Food Cake. Who was introducing such demonic and evil things with a smile on the face? I found out later, of course, that deviled eggs were called that because of the spices (paprika, mustard, etc.) that were mixed in with the mashed up yolks that normally would not be anywhere near an egg. I mean, who squirts mustard on you breakfast scrambleds?
Again, maybe it was just the blurred memory of childhood, but I always recalled looking at those deviled eggs, sitting in their little Tupperware deviled egg tray, and they were perfect. Every one of them smooth and shiny, perfectly cut lengthwise in half and then refilled with a tasty egg mixture, and sprinkled with paprika. Mom was a good cook, but these eggs were always just right – and she had to make a few dozen of them to cover the appetites of seven children, and don’t forget Dad…
Of course, Mom is gone now, probably whipping up a batch of heavenly eggs for everyone in heaven, but among the hundreds of other questions I wish I could ask her, one would be – how’d you do it? How did you make those deviled eggs so perfect and looking wonderfully edible? Because I must tell you – that just ain’t the case with the next generation’s deviled eggs attempts.
So, today is Memorial Day, which means steak and corn on the cob – and, as Cheri reminded me… deviled eggs. No problem at all, right? We took a dozen eggs. So far so good. However, after decades of being able to boil eggs with the greatest of ease, for some reason, in the last few years, it’s like trying to putt on the golf course green after missing the last three holes. Instead of trusting in my instincts, I went to the internet to find the way to boil perfect boiled eggs, that would shed from the shell simply and cleanly, and get us on the way to the beautiful deviled eggs from the past.
So, you either put the eggs in cold water, and boil them for 12 minutes, or you get the water boiling, then drop the eggs in, and then shut off the heat and let them sit silently for 10 minutes, or you put vinegar and salt in the water, and just before it boils you put the eggs in, and then dance an Irish jig around the kitchen holding one of your cats over your head, all the time reciting the pledge of allegiance…
So yesterday, I took the dozen eggs, put them in cold water, boiled it up and then covered them and let them sit with no heat for 10 minutes. WE then too the pot over to the sink, poured out almost all the water, and filled the thing with ice cubes, just to chill it all down. Looked pretty good so far. 12 out of 12 eggs with no cracks or whites of the eggs spilling out like poached eggs. We let the ice cube watered boiled eggs sit for the better part of an hour.
Then, it was just a matter of taking the shells off. Now, I can tell you, if I were simply making egg salad, where I would chop up all the eggs, they would have plopped out of those shells like no one’s business. However, somewhere deep in the DNA of those eggs, they got the secret message that we were going to make deviled eggs, and needed intact white, soft and smooth outsides of the boiled egg. Therefore, each and every egg was called to arms to do everything in their power to keep that from happening. They would fight from the hills, the countryside, the cities – whatever it took to spoil the look and integrity of the deviled eggs to be.
It worked. I picked up the first egg, broke the shell all around, like I have done a thousand times before, and then carefully tried to remove the shell from the white, keeping everything just so. I expect it took nearly two seconds before the first peel off exposed the yolk, and a chunk of the white was at the bottom of the sink. Over and over and over – and over again, with each and every egg getting shelled, chunks and pieces of what should be a smooth exterior came off. All. Twelve. Eggs. Actually, eleven, since with the final egg, as I tried to peel the shell, it broke in two, and a big chunk of it fell down the garbage disposal. I sent the rest of it with its partner.
As I looked at the eggs, it was truly pitiful. That’s all that can describe it. It looked like a four-year-old doing brain surgery. I put the eggs back into the refrigerator, promising to work on making deviled eggs tomorrow, which is today, and we will give it a try. I mean, what can go wrong? Well, hopefully we will still have the steaks and the corn on the cob…
I’ll try deviled eggs again sometime. It sure would be nice, however, if Mom would visit me in a dream and give me the perfect secret on how to make those eggs like she always did. Yet, that might be kind of a big waste of a visit from heaven…
So, do the best you can. Very few things in our world depend on things being done perfectly. Certainly we like to do a great job, but sometimes, just sometimes, you have to do the job, and then squint your eyes a little so the result looks pretty good. Not great, but pretty good. And then, give your heart over to doing excellent on the things that truly matter, like forgiveness, and love, and gentleness and joy. Happy Memorial Day.
Word for the day: elegiac. Pronounced ell-eh-JIY-ack. It’s not a word often used, but it is a singularly powerful term. Coming from the noun, “elegy,” it originally comes from the Greek elegeia ode, or elegos, which means “poem of lament.” An elegy, or something that is elegiac, is a particular song that addresses a loss or a death or a sad event – not simply an ode, which often is a song of honor and joy, and elegy reminds us of what is not now, that once was. A perfect word for Memorial Day, don’t you think?
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.